The threads on the gently pilled sweater, once a favorite in her dad’s wardrobe, were meticulously pulled apart. The seamstress was careful to find the perfect pieces and preserve the balance and texture of each warm amber and russet brown stripe. Fall was always a favorite time of year for him. Somehow the autumn-themed, warm and cozy sweater seemed perfect to serve this new purpose. The sweater was transformed into a memory bear. Now, it will forever be a reminder that while Dad has passed, he is still close at heart. The love that they have for each other will always survive.

What is a Memory Bear

Memory bears are teddy bears created out of clothing or other belongings that are meaningful to a person. They often serve as a keepsake after a loved one has passed. Our hospice volunteers and nurses consider it a great privilege to create them for surviving family members after their loved ones, our hospice patients, have passed away.  Holding a bear close can help ease the pain after a loss. The bear acts as a reminder of special memories, or helps with bereavement by holding silent witness to sorrow.

How a Memory Bear Helped Ease a Sudden Loss

Salus Temecula Hospice Nurse Sarah Greyson was honored to recently have the opportunity to help create a special memory bear for the daughter of one of our patients at Atria Park. After our patient tested positive for COVID-19, his passing was sudden. His daughter barely had enough time to process the loss or say goodbye. With the sudden loss, Sarah was concerned that grief might be more intense and difficult to process or that our patient’s daughter might experience complicated grief. Sarah searched for a way to help this Temecula hospice family. The solution was to create a memory bear.

The memory bear came together with the help of Terri Alcantara, Director of Memory Care at Atria Park. She provided Sarah with our patient’s favorite shirt in secret. Sarah then commissioned a local seamstress to create the bear. Once the bear was complete, Terri delivered it to the family, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Making a Difference with Partnerships in Healthcare

This memory bear project came together beautifully. It serves as a testament to the level of compassion shown to family members by both Salus Hospice of Riverside County and Atria Park. Crafting and presenting the bear was special and emotional for everyone and a reminder of the value of strong professional partnerships. The incredible team worked together to help this family through a very difficult time. The daughter was reminded that she is not alone and has support throughout her grief process.  

When asked about the project, Sarah Greyson, Salus Hospice of Temecula Nurse Case Manager stated, “It made me feel so honored to be a part of his journey and to be able to gift this memory bear to his family. She can hug the bear anytime she misses Dad, and that warms my heart to know Salus could leave a piece of her father with her.”

While overcoming that physical ache to hold someone who has passed so quickly is challenging, the memory bear helps to ease the pain. It gives a surviving loved one something special to hold after the hospice journey has ended. We hope that this bear serves that purpose. Our goal was to offer a keepsake that reminds our patient’s loved one that “Dad” is always with her. He lives on in her heart. As she continues to work through her grief, Salus Hospice of Temecula is here for her. We wish this family well on their journey. It is our sincere hope that they find much healing and happiness on the road ahead.